San Diego

Dozens More Migrants Flown Into San Diego Amid Flu Outbreak

Another plane carrying dozens of asylum-seeking migrants from an overcrowded shelter in Texas touched down in San Diego Monday despite a flu outbreak at local shelters. 

The transportation of migrants from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to a processing facility in San Diego was part of a plan from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to alleviate overwhelmed processing centers near the Texas-Mexico border. 

NBC 7 captured footage as the chartered 737 plane from Brownsville, Texas touched down. Men, women and children could be seen deplaning and boarding unmarked white busses. The group was then transported to nearby border patrol processing centers.

The latest flight arrived as the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) announced three more migrants at local shelters showed flu-like symptoms, bringing the total number of local cases to 47 since the new DHS process was established on May 17. 

HHS said it is likely the outbreak will continue to spread. 

"In a shelter setting, people spend a lot of time together -- very close -- sleeping in dormitory like settings," HHS spokesperson Dean Sidelinger said. "In that setting, it's very easy for diseases like influenza to spread."

Ill migrants are being isolated in local hotels with their families. HHS said shelter operators will continue screenings and the isolation and treatment of anyone who is symptomatic.

San Diego Rapid Response, the agency that runs a recently-opened shelter at the old San Diego Superior Court building, did not comment on how they are handling the flu cases.

However, migrant shelters in San Diego are running at maximum capacity, Pastor Bill Jenkins told NBC 7 when the DHS plan was announced.

Jenkins is the director of the Safe Harbors Network, a volunteer organization that works with San Diego Rapid Response to open up churches and homes to house migrants on a long-term stay.

"It's a challenge, no doubt about it, and with the numbers coming through, we’re pretty much at maximum right now, and to hear they have an additional three flights a week with 130 people -- that's going to add an additional layer of complexity," Jenkins said. 

A 16-year-old Guatemalan died last week in immigration custody, in Texas after being diagnosed with the flu a day before, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The teenager is the fifth migrant child to die in U.S. custody since December, NBC News reported.

ICE said they are continually reviewing their detention requirements and exploring other options in order to house migrants in their custody.

Meanwhile, three flights a week, each carrying about 130 people would arrive in San Diego indefinitely. The agency said once they process migrants in San Diego, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is then responsible for them.

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